Victoria is a German film about a bank heist gone wrong, shot all in one take. It’s tense and thrilling to the point of inducing chair-gripping nausea, and that ambience can be credited to both the outstanding performances and Nils Frahm’s soundtrack. It’s opening DJ Koze track already transports you immediately to underground Berlin nightclubs, before Frahms comes in with gently paced piano that really tugs the heartstrings. These slower moments are perfect in the film’s context when they’re juxtaposed against hyperactive dance club scenes, but even without seeing the film, this is an album of exquisite ambient music.
Girlhood has to be one of the best films of 2015, an insight into a community of girls that’s rarely explored with such intimate, tender detail. The music is celebratory electronica from Para One, tinged with the danger that reflects the knife’s edge friendships of the film – where every action has a subtext and allegiances can switch in a heartbeat. The only missing piece on this score is a standout moment from the film where the girls, drunk on cheap alcohol and plans for a night out, dance collectively in their tiny hotel room to Rihanna’s Diamonds. It’s as close as we can get to capturing the beautiful intricacies of female friendship on film.
Probably the most anticipated indie horror of last year, It Follows achieved the perfect symbiosis of music to visuals, where the pulsating electronic beats from Disasterpeace’s soundtrack added to the overall feeling of dread. The music is blatantly reminiscent of 80s John Carpenter flicks, the ominous slow build to an ear-shattering crescendo of shrill noises and shrieks.
What this film lacked in original screenwriting, it made up for with sumptuous visuals and a haunting soundtrack. The Mess Hall’s Jed Kurzel scored Macbeth with string-heavy barrages of sound, reminiscent of Warren Ellis and Nick Cave’s work. You can practically hear the murderous Shakespearean undertones and see the foggy Scottish highlands each time the bows slide along strings.
The Duke of Burgundy
Peter Strickland has a knack for choosing the perfect artists to work on scores for his films. Where Berberian Sound Studio had Broadcast, The Duke of Burgundy has Cat’s Eyes, the project from The Horrors’ frontman Faris Badwan and multi-instrumentalist opera singer Rachel Zeffira. The film is a sensual, measured and subtle insight into a fading s&m relationship between two women, and the music is similarly fitted with plenty of strings, flitting lutes and almost whimsical instrumentals. There’s always a hint of something else going on in the background though, whether in delicate reverb or a whispering synth note.
The Colour of Pomegranates
The Colour of Pomegranates is a 1968 avant-garde film by Armenian-Georgian director Sergei Parajanov, recently restored by Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation. Its original soundtrack is predominantly the traditional strains of the Armenian duduk, a woodwind instrument made from apricot wood. Nicolas Jaar’s interpretation is light years away from the original, though he snips and chops up the flute sounds until they’re unrecognisable in this crystalised synth and harsh reverb soundtrack. It’s a passion project clearly, and a worthwhile curiosity to indulge in, given it’s on YouTube for free.